Music

Walking Concert: Run to Be Born

Jon Goff

Walking Concert

Run to Be Born

Label: Some
US Release Date: 2004-09-07
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Imagine if you will a boy of seventeen sprawled unenthusiastically across the bed of his brother's room, casually reading lyrics from the booklet of a borrowed CD. He is blissfully unaware of the paradigm shift at hand. Within the hour, in a surge of youthful vigor, he will anoint an album king and deem everything else to be insignificant and shabby. And what is this discovery? What album could cause such a cataclysm? For me it was Quicksand's Slip. In 1993, it was hands down the best thing I had ever heard. Its message of strength and self-sufficiency in the face of staggering disillusionment made an instant connection. The gigantic riffs were edgy and menacing, but, most importantly, deep within that wall of sound there was a voice of thrilling lucidity. That voice belonged to Walter Schreifels. His honesty and emotional integrity left an indelible mark.

For many, the soundtrack of youth is a choice based on raw emotion, and years after the fact they find that they are no worse for having loved and lost. But in my case, I still need a voice, or, at the very least, someone or something that can begin at a moment in the past and account for my travel through time. Therefore it is only fitting that Walter Schreifels should arrive here today sounding better than he ever has. In the ten years since Slip, he released a second album with Quicksand and recorded yet another under the Rival Schools moniker. That band seemed more like a bridge to his present incarnation than a completely sustaining entity in and of itself. With Rival Schools the guitar sludge of Quicksand had become more melodious, but it still allowed the legions of hardcore faithful to hold out hope for the return of the behemoth. With Walking Concert, Schreifels has finally laid the beast to rest. The songs on Run to Be Born owe far more to the Kinks and Bowie than they do to Black Flag or Minor Threat. As much as this fundamental shift might seem like a stretch, Schreifels is completely at peace with the new material. He has developed into a truly engaging songwriter, equally as adept with recollection and pop culture reference as he ever was with personal struggle and angry confrontation.

It should be pointed out that Walking Concert is by no means a solo endeavor. Schreifels has enlisted a trio of musicians in Ryan Stratton (bass), Jeffrey Johnson (guitar), and Drew Thomas (drums) to aid him in his transformation. And it is clearly evident that the four are enjoying their time together. Run to Be Born leaps out of the gate with the hand-clapping pop of "What's Your New Thing?". The song exudes a joyous energy that continues throughout tracks like Brit-obsessed "Aluminium", the goofy hi-jinks of "Studio Space", and the twinkling sway of "Audrey". There is even a bit of psychedelia on "Girls in the Field" for those keeping score at home, and a rocking rave up cover of Marc Bolan's "Mustang Ford".

But what's is truly exciting is when the band capitalizes on these '60s flourishes to create a dynamic pop identity of its own. For instance, "Hands Up" rides a head-lolling, Pavement-esque verse into a joyous explosion of chorus that can't help but bring a smile to even the least gracious of cynics. Another marvelous number is "The Animals". On the surface it's a simple story of a girl and trip to Six Flags' Great Adventure, but it's really far more than that. It is surely one Schriefels' finest moments as a songwriter. The recollection of events is both endearing and humorous, but what's even more impressive is the song's structure itself. Most of Schriefels' previous work has relied on driving rhythms and builds and bursts of guitar, but this track shape-shifts elegantly from moment to moment without forcing the hand of repetition. Even better is "Calypso Slide". It slips and sways with sleepy energy, but beneath the surface it's as seamless as any Motown single. It without a doubt embodies its own best lyric: "Don't worry butterfly / You're landing every trick you try". It is time that that be said of Schreifels himself, who after 10 years of solid effort is finally making his case as one of the finest songwriters of his generation.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.